Career

A brief how-to for ambitious software developers

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Ambitious junior and mid-level developers invest time into professional growth to level up and move to more challenging and rewarding projects: they read books, articles, do courses and tutorials.

However, they often overlook some of the development opportunities that are available in their current team and role. That is common among developers at the early stages of their career — they don’t have enough experience to recognise all available opportunities. As a result, they lose precious time which could have been spent on upskilling to move to a new role sooner.

Such developers usually work in teams with more experienced…

Engineering Management

A brief guide for pragmatic software engineering managers

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Every software engineering manager knows that to build a high-performing team they need to create a strong teamwork culture. Unfortunately, not every manager knows how to achieve that in practice.

Let’s look at a few techniques that, when applied consistently, may help a software development team to improve cooperation and collaboration and develop the habit of working together on most tasks.

We’ll start with the techniques that improve team cooperation by creating situations where developers have to work together to achieve a shared goal.

Then we’ll look at the techniques for improving team collaboration. Such techniques involve team members into…

Engineering Management

Simple things most managers can do to build a cohesive team of software engineers

Image of team rowing a boat.
Image of team rowing a boat.
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Even first-time managers know that to build a high-performing team they need to improve engagement and encourage collaboration between the team members. Sadly, not every manager knows how to achieve that, even though that shouldn’t be particularly difficult unless their team is completely dysfunctional.

To create a cohesive software development team a manager needs to set the team’s goals, define its purpose, create a collaborative environment, and strengthen relationships between the team members.

Setting Team Goals

Goal setting is one of the key management responsibilities. Team goals should be meaningful, challenging, and achievable for the team members. Goals should be set for the…

Engineering Management

Free up time for critical tasks and coach future leaders by strategically delegating responsibilities

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Managers of growing software development teams have to deal with rapidly increasing workload. At some point, they don’t have enough time in their day to look into each issue. If they keep doing so, they become a bottleneck in decision making, slow their team down, and put its success at risk.

This behaviour is frequent among first-time managers, especially those who have been promoted to this role thanks to being strong individual contributors. They keep relying on their old strengths which no longer serve them well in the new role. …

Productivity

How my software development team has taken meetings, communications, and unplanned work under control.

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Photo by Studio Republic on Unsplash

Meetings, communications, and urgent requests are well known productivity detractors for software engineering teams. In this article I’d like to share how my team maintains high productivity by carefully designing the team meeting schedule, optimising team communications, and taking distractions under control to maximise uninterrupted time that each developer and designer can spend on actually doing their job.

First of all, I should tell you a bit about my team so you could get an idea how similar or different it is from yours. My team is building and maintaining the online and mobile banking apps for one of the…

Engineering Management

How to create realistic sprint plans for a software engineering team playing to its strengths and keeping focus on its goals.

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Photo by airfocus on Unsplash

This post is about my favourite approach for sprint planning for a small software development team. It is simple, quick, and pragmatic. I’ve seen it working successfully in several teams.

With this approach planning for a two-week sprint usually takes less than an hour for a team of ten people. The approach is easy to understand for new team members at their first sprint planning meeting. It is also easy to pick up for teams that only just started working in sprints.

In this article, I’ll demonstrate this approach on a 1-week sprint for a small software development team as…

People Management

Setting up new hires for success by accelerating learning, encouraging collaboration, providing and soliciting feedback

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

To get fully productive at a new job, a software developer needs to:

  • understand how their new team works,
  • get familiar with the product source code and architecture,
  • get familiar with the product business domain.

In our team we started to help our new hires to get up to speed sooner with a personalised onboarding process. It has been working well for us: our new colleagues have been learning quickly, contributing efficiently, and integrating into the team well.

In this article I’d like to share the details of our approach. Its key parts are:

  1. Appointing an on-boarding buddy
  2. Preparing an…

Engineering Management

How to staying on top of delivery, people management, and system ownership at each stage of the product life cycle

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

From a software engineering perspective the product life cycle can be split into six stages: Development, Introduction, Growth, Maturity, Decline, and Abandonment. Each stage has different goals and challenges, so engineering managers have to shift their focus accordingly to keep providing best results for their organisation:

  • At the Development stage, the goal is to build and deliver the product prototype into the hands of customers.
  • At the Introduction stage — to find product/market fit.
  • At the Growth stage — to improve the product offering and accelerate growth.
  • At the Maturity stage — optimise operating costs and keep on improving the…

Career

Demonstrate your programming skills and avoid mistakes in a coding test for a Software Developer role

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Photo by Danial RiCaRoS on Unsplash

A coding test is a crucial part of the interview process for a Software Developer role. A take-home coding test combined with a follow-up interview can tell interviewers a lot about the candidate’s prior experience and potential performance at the new job. It is also a great opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their skills.

Let’s take a look at a few recommendations for software developers on how they can approach a coding test to increase their chance of passing it successfully and getting a job.

1. Read the Instructions Carefully

Start with carefully reading the coding test instructions and understanding what is required from you…

Engineering Management

How to refine and validate an API product idea, design and build the prototype, successfully launch and grow it.

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Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash

Aspiring startup founders often think of building a web or a mobile app. However, launching such products requires lots of efforts and collaboration from people with various skill sets: engineering, infrastructure, design, PR, marketing, sales, product management, support, analytics, industry expertise, etc. If you are bootstrapping, it is not easy to find co-founders with required skills. If you are working with investors — finding talent is still time-consuming and expensive.

Unlike web and mobile apps, API products require less effort to build, launch, and maintain. APIs have well-defined use cases, so less customer support is required. API products don’t need…

Andrei Gridnev

Software engineer, manager since 2002. Engineering management, leadership, software architecture, high-performing teams, professional growth.

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